Public Transportation Vs Private Transportation Essay

Public Transport Vs Private Transport

Most of us know using public transport is better for the environment and can even offer a cheaper and quicker route. But in reality the number of cars on the road is continuing to rise. So what is it that’s stopping people from ditching the more expensive not to mention less green, private forms of transport that we see on the road? We look at the pros and cons of both forms of getting from A to B…

Public Transport – A Greener Form of Travel

If you want to do your bit for the environment, getting public transport and leaving the car at home is one of the most straightforward things to do. As you will see below, it can be more convenient, quicker, and cheaper to do so. And the green benefits are great too. Car journeys contribute a significant amount of our overall carbon footprint. According to the Energy Saving Trust nearly half of us use a car to drive short journeys, journeys that could otherwise be completed in another, more sustainable way.
Convenient
The great thing about public transport is that it gets you where you want to be, when you want to be there, particularly in cities and towns. Rather than only being able to drive to a certain point before getting stuck in a one way system, you can reach your central point directly. Plus you get the bonus of sitting back, relaxing with a newspaper and letting someone else do the driving.
Quicker
Despite their tendency to get delayed at times, in the majority of instances, your journey from A to B will be quick and often direct as more and more investment is made into new train, tram and bus routes across the UK.
Cheaper
Contrary to popular belief, nearly all forms of public transport pose less of a cost to the traveller. If you’re regularly visiting a place, or planning a trip in advance, you can get season tickets or advance booked tickets for a cheaper price. The cost of running a car goes much further than the mere cost of petrol, which in itself can be very expensive in the UK. Getting on public transport means no congestion charges, car insurance and tax costs, plus eradicates the expense of maintaining your car to a high standard.
No Parking
One of the most frustrating things about driving a car or motorbike is the hunt for a parking space once you arrive at your destination. Parking is often scarce, and usually expensive. The bonus of getting on public transport is being able to alight and nothing else. Parking can often add extra time to your driving journey.
Public Transport – Cons
On the other hand, public transport hasn’t always had the best of reputations. According to government survey, many cite the following reasons for not using a public transport option more often:
  • Ticket prices are rising
  • Poor customer service
  • Rush hour inconvenience
  • Delays and unreliability

Private Transport – Not Clean or Green

The downside to public transport means that cars and motorbikes can, at times, be more flexible and offer an easier form of travel in the eyes of the commuter or traveller. However the green credentials are far less than attractive for anyone wanting to reduce their carbon footprint. And on the whole, there is a realistic public transport alternative to driving. The biggest challenge is changing our preconceptions.

According to a survey commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust, we drive on more unnecessary journeys then most other European nations, an extra three billion miles compared to the French. Even trying out a train or bus even once or twice a week – be it to the supermarket or the shops – will reduce this carbon footprint.

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Adamrobertk - Your Question:

This is why I choose my car over public transport.Getting to work for 7am and leaving at 3pm (average times, used public for 5 years, car for 2)Public transport - 5 minute walk to bus stop, 20 minute bus to the town center, 10 minute wait, 20 minute bus to near my work, 10 minute walk to work. 65 minutesLeaving at 3 - 10 minute walk to bus stop, 20 minutes to town, 15 minute wait for connection, 20 minutes to near home, 5 minute walk - 70 minutesCar - 20 minutes to work30 minutes home after work.Total public transport time - 2 hours 15 minutesCar - 55 minutesIf public transport can reduce that time difference to under 1 hour 20 mins and improve reliability, I'll happily take public transport as the cost saving makes it viable. However the extra time saved by the car across all journeys makes it way more practical.


Our Response:

Yes, unless you live in or around London, or in the middle of another major city, public transport is not usually feasible simply because of the time it takes, the availability of it at all and the lack of reliability. (Sometimes it's actually more expensive too).

EnergySavingSecrets - 1-Nov-17 @ 1:46 PM

This is why I choose my car over public transport... Getting to work for 7am and leaving at 3pm (average times, used public for 5 years, car for 2) Public transport - 5 minute walk to bus stop, 20 minute bus to the town center, 10 minute wait, 20 minute bus to near my work, 10 minute walk to work... 65 minutes Leaving at 3 - 10 minute walk to bus stop, 20 minutes to town, 15 minute wait for connection, 20 minutes to near home, 5 minute walk - 70 minutes Car - 20 minutes to work 30 minutes home after work... Total public transport time - 2 hours 15 minutes Car - 55 minutes If public transport can reduce that time difference to under 1 hour 20 mins and improve reliability, I'll happily take public transport as the cost saving makes it viable. However the extra time saved by the car across all journeys makes it way more practical.

Adamrobertk - 30-Oct-17 @ 6:15 PM

EvaPilot1 - Your Question:

I have to question where you say it's cheaper to ride the bus. It might have been that way before, and it definitely makes sense that it should be cheaper with economies of scale, but £5.60 a day to get to work and back is ridiculous.


Our Response:

You're right, public transport is becoming more expensive especially if you put a cost on your own time (it's rarely quicker than a car unless there's a bus stop right outside your house). We will take a look at the article soon and make revisions if necessary.

EnergySavingSecrets - 27-Jul-17 @ 2:31 PM

I have to question where you say it's cheaper to ride the bus. It might have been that way before, and it definitely makes sense that it should be cheaper with economies of scale, but £5.60 a day to get to work and back is ridiculous.

EvaPilot1 - 25-Jul-17 @ 8:10 AM

Thanks . Helped me quite a lot.

San - 20-Apr-17 @ 5:18 PM

Will I agree public transportis better in built up areas unless its coordinated, makes sense and links lical people to local facilities it doesnt work. People will always use private transport or taxis. I see loads of people use taxis with shopping. Its either cost effective or links people up where they live better. By me there is no direct links to the supermarket 1.6 miles away so most use cars abd as we live on a hill and the transport to it doesnt go up there and the connections poor it means carrying stuff even a few bags isnt worth it by public transport. Public transport has to be improved and linked better if people are going to make a real switch. It often works out cheaper for groups by car and they can carry what they want when they want. Unless buses where people need to go are conveniently accessible again people rather than pay for cars for convenience and go where they want. I know a number of large roads by me that offer limited destinations at limited times. People use buses less as there is less options for them both time and place wise.

Mikeo - 11-Jan-17 @ 10:06 PM

Public transportation system is best as compare to private,bcuz this is cheap in cost,no need to search the location,everyone can afford it,on other hand,private transportation system is very expensive,people can't afford 'who belong from poor families,easily carry ours goods anywhere,if we go bye train,i can take a reservation before1,&1'half months so in my opinion public transportation system is best for travelling.

kaki - 26-Sep-16 @ 8:53 AM

The Train prices are terribly high, it takes longer too. The government pretends they want to help with global warming but they refuse to regulate the high price of public transport and bring it down to an acceptable level. I can get it my car and drive from Kent to Manchester at a fuel cost of approximately £30. The train ride costs £90. The government doesn't care a fig about the ozone layer, all these hypocrites really care about is money.

al - 26-Aug-16 @ 12:25 PM

Surely the reason people would rather drive is one of convenience? You can take more things with you, you can dictate when you wish to travel, you aren't subject to hot, overcrowded, non-air conditioned carriages. And, disputing your point of access in towns - certainly up North, public transport links aren't great. Many people who don't drive have to rely on taxi services anyway as public transport is either too poorly accessible or entails a frightful number of stops or changes. I am entirely a proponent of reducing our carbon footprint, but public transport as it is can be a challenge to the average working professional. Car pool anyone?

Chan - 8-Aug-16 @ 8:39 AM

I want to tell that public transport is very useful compare of private transport because I want to go any another country then we use to public transport because it is so far that we will bore in the sitting of my private transport so we use to pub trspt

n a - 3-Aug-16 @ 11:15 PM

The thing is, if it's so important to the environment for us to use public transport then bring the prices down. Don't blame us for using our cars when it works out cheaper for us.

al - 12-Jul-16 @ 1:58 PM

It's obvious that using public transportation systems reduce air pollution, although lack of enough tube lines in my country is cause of less use of public transport I live in Iran

Blue - 7-Jun-16 @ 9:44 AM

Priver transporte is better than public trancporte

pawan - 25-Dec-15 @ 1:31 AM

@YY. Thanks for the kind comments.

EnergySavingSecrets - 23-Oct-14 @ 10:17 AM

it helped me a lot! even though I'm in Japan, it was easy for me to understand

yy - 21-Oct-14 @ 8:45 AM

I just ran some numbers to work out how much it costs me per week to get to and from work on my motorbike (a trip of 10.2 miles each way) vs how much it would cost me on the bus On motorbike Fuel cost: 6p per mile Tax: £15 a year Insurance: £80 a year Total cost per week: £7.95 Cost of annual pass on bus: £470 Total cost per week : £470 / 52 = £9.04 Along with it being cheaper to run I also get the convenience of going when I want to go, it being faster (bus takes just over an hour, bike takes about 20 mins).Parking is almost always free for motorbikes even in car parks where cars have to pay. Apart from the environmental issues (which are greatly reduced by using a motorbike) what are my reasons for using public transport instead?

ChrisC - 23-Dec-13 @ 12:35 PM

This helped a lot!!! I could use this for an idea in naplan.

Real Madrid - 16-Mar-13 @ 10:28 PM

This helped me learn a lot and gave me a good explanation.

Radcircles - 16-Mar-13 @ 10:25 PM

There is a related article that can be found on the web called “public transport vs luxury chauffeur car”. It is a little tongue-in-cheek but does make you think. It argues that being chauffeur driven can work out than using public transport in central London. I assume this applies to any large city and depending on how much you travel each day for work. Perhaps being chauffeur driven is a cheaper alternative to driving yourself on occasion. just Google "Public Transport vs Luxury Chauffeur Car" and you can vote for walking, driving or taking public transport.

Lynn - 1-Feb-13 @ 10:48 PM

I always try to ride, walk or drive myself as I've always been very independent.

Vera - 29-Jan-13 @ 11:24 AM

I dislike public transport for a number of reasons 1 they dont leave when I want to leave 2 they are rarely availble after 6.30pm in rural areas 3 Other passengers are generally rude, noisey and pass germs about 4 the shelters are either too small, uncomfortable or no exsistent. 5 If Public transport or small cars are so good why don't royalty, politictions and the wealthy use them?

pita - 4-Dec-12 @ 4:31 PM

A great deal of the discourse about cities in recent years has revolved around issues involving public vs. private. This has sometimes been a useful and illuminating conversation.   Too often, however, the conversation descends almost immediately into a stand-off because of basic disagreements about the role of individuals, families, institutions and the government in today’s society. These entrenched partisan positions make it difficult to negotiate usefully about an entire range of urban phenomena from acceptable behavior in public places to the rise of gated communities or from the gentrification of central city neighborhoods to the privatization of basic infrastructure.

In some ways this binary opposition of private vs. public has obscured a central fact about life in the mixed economic and political system in which we live. Our current notions about what is or should be public or private are relatively recent and based on assumptions that are constantly changing. It is also the case that the line between the two is much more blurred than the usual debates would suggest. After all, in Western democracies, most adult citizens are consumers in the market at the same time as they are voters and actors in the public sphere. Even with a given individual the interests are often contradictory and changing. It is not surprising, then, that debates based on the assumption of sharp distinction between public and private are often frustrating and unproductive, particularly in a fast changing world.

The battles between private and public transportation provide an excellent example of the way that doctrinaire notions impede progress toward useful solutions. Let’s take an historical example. In many cities around the country in the early 20th century private rail companies ran streetcar lines under a franchise from local governments. In the 1910s, quite unexpectedly, there appeared a competitor to these municipally regulated monopolies. Owners of private automobiles started to offer rides to passengers, often along the same route as the streetcars. At first these so-called jitney drivers were only a nuisance for the rail operators, but in short order they became a major threat because they offered a more comfortable and cheaper ride and, because they were not obliged to follow fixed routes or make fixed stops, they were often considerably faster and more convenient for riders.

If the streetcar operators had been making a healthy profit they probably could simply have undercut the jitney operator in cost. However, many of these companies had been created in part to help make new areas of the city accessible and thereby help sales of real estate owned by company officers. When these real estate sales declined once the land adjacent to the rail lines was developed and certain lines proved unprofitable, they were often unable to discontinue those lines because of requirements by local governments to maintain service. That, in turn, gave them little incentive to keep their tracks in good repair or to provide enough vehicles to avoid overcrowding.

Faced with this inherent problem and potentially disastrous competition, the streetcar operators turned to local governments for help. They argued that the jitney service benefited from the fact that it was unregulated and that it was cherry-picking customers from the most profitable routes without the burden of providing service for the entire region. They further argued that the jitney drivers were unlicensed and potentially unsafe. In the end, most municipal governments around the country established regulations, ostensibly for public protection, that made most jitney service uneconomic. The number of jitneys declined precipitously and they no longer were able to compete directly with the railroad companies. Of course, the railroad companies’ problems went deeper than the competition from jitneys. The episode was an important demonstration of the advantages to them offered by rubber wheeled vehicles on public right of way and they soon switched to buses. Even so, the inherent problems of making a profit on a highly regulated monopoly eventually led to the eventual demise of every one of the private surface lines and the assumption of their routes by public agencies.

Now, in this episode, was the defeat of the jitneys and victory of the streetcar monopolies a triumph of the public interests or a defeat? To answer that question you would have to start with another one: Where did private interest lie and where public interest? It would seem that answering that question, in turn, would entirely depend on which private interests and which public interests we are talking about in a situation where the very distinction between the two turns out to be quite blurred.

Let’s fast forward to today.   We may well be on the verge of a very similar episode. Today most American cities have public monopolies responsible for running public transit, which today is primarily buses and trains. A great many planners and scholars have been arguing strenuously for decades that the automobile has been a deleterious element in urban development, that the push for roads and parking has destroyed central cities, that the enhanced mobility has allowed middle class residents to flee city centers, taking their civic involvement and tax dollars with them, and that the growth of urban sprawl has destroyed farmland, greatly increased the demand for a limited supply of energy and has contributed to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Many of these individuals see this as the triumph of private interests over the collective public interest. They call for measures that would limit the use of private automobiles and boost ridership of public transportation. They would do this by redistributing money that now goes to roads and highways to public transportation systems. They also advocate for land use laws that would boost densities in order to make public transportation more efficient.

The irony in all this is that this dichotomy between small, private vehicles and large, collective public vehicles, may turn out to be an anomaly, an artifact of a particular moment of urban development between the middle of the 19th and the end of the 20th century. Many of the arguments put forward in this debate are already outmoded. For example, even today the private automobile has become so much more efficient that it uses less energy and emits less greenhouse gas per vehicle mile traveled than the transit bus which is the dominant mode of public transit in the country today. Of course, because the private automobile is generally much faster than public transportation, it has allowed citizens to travel longer distances. Nevertheless, that has not translated into low-density settlement being necessarily more energy intensive than high density settlement.

Furthermore, if we assume for a moment that the trend toward energy efficiency and alternative energy sources continues, we can easily imagine a future not far off when these issues will recede. At that point, the debate can move back to the fundamental issue of how to transport the most passengers in the most efficient, most comfortable and least expensive way.

It appears unlikely that the bus and the railroad train, two big box 19th century transportation solutions, are likely to increase their market share. Instead, an entire range of smaller, personal vehicles running on alternative fuels with built-in navigation devices could well allow for much faster and safer travel on existing infrastructure that will be able to handle an enormously increased amount of traffic. With the advent of shared vehicles and driverless vehicles, it is also possible that most urban dwellers won’t need or want their own vehicles but will summon electronically an appropriately sized vehicle for the purpose at hand, eliminating a vast amount of parking. This would be a true public transportation system but the vehicles would look a lot more like automobiles than buses or trains. It is also likely that the system would be mostly privately owned and operated although with extensive public regulation.

Now, of course, there are enormous hurdles to achieving any of this. And there will be problems, probably problems as important as the ones that we face with our transportation options today.

However, this scenario, as with the jitney episode, does suggest three things. The first is that trying to rebuild our cities at the densities of 19th century industrial cities in order to make public transit work, is probably short-sighted and counter-productive. A second is that, as with the jitney episode, what is public and what is private is a very fluid and often even contradictory thing. The final thing is that debates of this kind often lead to sub-optimal solutions. Certainly to date the big debate between private and public transportation in cities has not helped a situation where neither the private nor the public entities has been able or willing to invest in the kind of infrastructure that the country needs to remain competitive and increase productivity.

About the Author

Robert Bruegmann is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History, Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Posted on July 23rd, 2014.

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